Cavatelli is a curved, short pasta resembling a hot dog bun with a long rolled edge which helps it to hold thicker sauces. A product of Sicily and southern Italy, these noodles are traditionally made by hand, although they are also commonly found frozen in North American Italian specialty stores. Traditionally, cavatelli is made by hand using a semolina flour dough. In North America, it is possible to find dried cavatelli shaped pasta made with semolina, as well as a softer form (often sold frozen) made from either a ricotta or potato based dough. Although cavatelli is sometimes confused with gnocchi, generally gnocchi dough is much softer than one used to make cavatelli.
Although I have made cavatelli by hand in the past, I came across this great little cavatelli maker for around $20 US on Amazon.com and ordered it. I have used this machine a handful of times already with great success so I decided to share my experience with you in step by step photo instructions. This recipe is one using ricotta cheese for the dough, and it creates very tender, delicious little bites of pasta. I have experimented using both tipo “00” (cake flour), and tipo “0” flour and find a combination of both works best. Unlike gnocchi dough which I try to work as little as possible, this dough requires a bit of kneading to obtain the best texture and firmness to hold together as it passes through the rollers and cutters.
Through experience, I have found that the trick to making cavatelli with this machine is to keep the dough strips a similar width, and to keep the strips well floured when passing them through the rollers to prevent sticking. Once the cavatelli drop out of the cutter, I toss them in a little more flour and place them on a baking sheet. To clean the cavatelli machine, treat it as you would any pasta machine, using just a cloth or brush to remove ant bits of dough or flour sticking to it. Never immerse your cavatelli maker in water.
by Deborah Mele
4 Cups All-purpose Flour (or 2 cups tipo “00” & 2 cups tipo “0”)
1 Pound Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
Place your flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add your other ingredients into the well and stir until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. You may also wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it until needed. This rest period is necessary to obtain the right texture of the dough.
When ready to cut the cavatelli, first cut the dough in half and place one half on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/3 of an inch thick and cut into strips about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Flour a strip well, and using one hand, pass it through the wooden rollers, turning the crank clockwise with the other hand. The cavatelli will drop onto the counter after they are cut. Place the cavatelli on a lightly floured baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook. Cook cavatelli in large pot of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. Like gnocchi, cavatelli will rise to the surface when cooked. Drain and top with your sauce of choice.
My Cavatelli Maker
Measure and assemble your ingredients – Flour, ricotta cheese, salt, cream and egg.
Make a well in the flour and add the other ingredients into it. Begin to mix until the dough comes together.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter, and knead for 2 to 3 minutes with your hands until you get a smooth dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rest 15 minutes on the counter or for a few hours in the refrigerator.
Cut the dough into workable pieces and roll on a floured surface until your dough is about 1/3 of an inch thick.
Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick strips. Flour the strips well before using to prevent sticking.
Use one hand to feed the strip between the wooden rollers while using the other hand to turn the crank clockwise.
Another look at the dough strip being fed into the machine.
As the dough passes through the rollers it is then cut into cavatelli which fall out onto the surface below.
Place the completed cavatelli onto a lightly floured tray and cook immediately or store in the refrigerator until needed.
Cavatelli With Creamy Pesto Sauce
Deborah Mele 2011